We used to do a better job of facing those facts. When I was a kid, for example, brassy old bats joked freely about their P.M.S. symptoms. But during the 1990s it became un-P.C. to so much as mention female hormones. Which isn”€™t giving women enough credit: those are some strong drugs, and you have no control over how long they take to clear your system. For three days of the month I feel a dizzying desire to stab every moron I see on the street, and I have yet to give in. To claim to my better half that there’s no such thing as a hormone”€”that my snappishness is a rational reaction to his behavior”€”would be a hurtful lie.

On the other side of the coin, when I”€™ve been working long hours and our place is full of both filth and a male who doesn”€™t seem to have noticed it, I remind myself that men have analogous flaws. These days we”€™re all supposed to be fungible economic units; a lady with a career is no longer a revolutionary, she’s trying not to starve. But there’s a good reason we used to divide the labor the way we did, back when a man could earn enough money to have a stay-at-home wife. Gentlemen, I mean this with all the love in the world: you apparently cannot perceive dirt. If men had been in charge of home cleaning before easy bachelor solutions like Lysol came along, we would have all died of the plague.

You are correct if you suspect I can”€™t cite a study to back up this assertion.

In most areas of life I”€™m a radical moderate: show me the evidence. But with the people you love, it’s best to take any chance to give the benefit of the doubt. Yes, there are people who don”€™t deserve that benefit. And though some of them are very nice-looking indeed, I suggest you avoid giving them children.

But if you have someone who’s salvageable, however flawed, humor me with a Christmas experiment: stop arguing for this day. You have no control over the PC tear-drinkers or the genuine woman-haters; the generals generally want to keep fighting. But many a soldier will leave the trench for fellowship. It’s so hard and so easy, but it takes so few words: I”€™m sorry, I screwed up, I took advantage of your civility, you”€™re not my real enemy.

Life can be brutal, and if it has left you hating the other side irreparably, it’s good to live alone; that’s very much your own business. But if you fraternize enough to create a child, that little hostage depends on you two to get along. It’s an awful moral responsibility, and your children will certainly remember which path you choose. Please give them a peaceful Christmas.


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